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Can I change the color of my car if it’s on finance?

Many people finance their car purchases these days. Financing allows you to drive a newer, more reliable vehicle without having to pay the full price upfront. It spreads the cost over several years through a loan arrangement.

However, after driving your new financed vehicle for a while, you may start wishing you had chosen a different color. Maybe you’ve grown tired of your current color and want something brighter. Or perhaps you believe a color change will increase your car’s resale value down the road.

Changing the color of a financed vehicle is possible but more complicated than with an owned vehicle. There are extra steps and restrictions you’ll need to navigate.

In this article, we’ll look at the important considerations around changing the color of a financed car. You’ll learn the potential issues and how to work through them. By the end, you’ll know what’s required to help ensure a smooth color change.

Why Would You Want to Change the Color?

Here are some of the common reasons people with financed vehicles wish to get their car re-painted in a different color:

  • Boredom with the current color – After a few years of ownership, you may simply become tired of your car’s color and want something fresh and exciting.
  • Changing preferences – Your color tastes may have changed since originally purchasing the vehicle.
  • Improved resale value – Some colors tend to hold their value better on the used market.
  • Easier to find – A brighter, bolder color can make your vehicle stand out more in a crowded parking lot.
  • Personality update – A new color can give your car a whole new look and character.
  • Covering damage – Repainting is sometimes needed to mask major scrapes or bodywork repairs.

So if your financed vehicle’s color is making you unhappy, know that you’re not alone. Many other owners experience the same feelings. Just be aware that extra considerations come into play when repainting a car that you don’t fully own yet.

Can You Legally Change the Color?

The first question many people have is simply: Am I allowed to change the color of a financed car? Thankfully the answer is yes, although some stipulations apply.

Legally, the vehicle’s title and registration is in your name, even though the finance company holds a lien on it. This means you do have the right to make modifications like repainting.

However, your finance contract likely contains language requiring you to keep the vehicle in good condition and prohibiting changes that could lower its value. So you’ll need to consider how a color change could impact that.

Certain methods of changing the color could violate the terms of your loan:

  • Using lower quality or incorrect paint types
  • Sloppy or unprofessional paintwork
  • Switching to a color that decreases resale value
  • Covering over significant collision repairs

As long as the color change is done properly and adds value, it should comply with the loan requirements. But be sure to check your contract verbiage and discuss with the lender first.

Getting the Lender’s Approval

Since the finance company has a vested interest in your car, it’s wise to get their blessing prior to a color change. Here are some tips for doing that:

  • Review the loan terms – Make sure a repaint isn’t prohibited.
  • Discuss your plan – Explain why you want to change the color.
  • Share how it will be done professionally.
  • Note any added value from popularity of the new color.
  • Offer to provide photos showing the quality repaint work.

The lender will likely request that you keep them apprised of the project’s progress. Some may even require pre-approval of the repair shop doing the work. Manage expectations by having the conversation early in the process.

Most finance companies will be comfortable with a color change that preserves the car’s condition and value. But get all assurances in writing before moving forward.

Updating Vehicle Records

Following a color change, you’ll need to ensure the vehicle’s records reflect the updated exterior color. Specifically the title, registration, and insurance documents should show the new paint color.

Here are the steps to accomplish that:


Contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to find out how to amend the title. Most will have you fill out a simple form and pay a small fee. Make this your first priority after the repaint so the title matches the car’s appearance.


The DMV will then send you updated registration documents listing the new color. This connects it to the revised title. If they don’t automatically do this, you may need to request corrected registration yourself after the new title arrives.


Notify your auto insurance provider about the color change. They will amend your policy paperwork to remain consistent. Having proper documentation showing the new color can facilitate claims processing.

It’s essential to complete these administrative tasks to avoid any confusion down the road. You want all records to sync up in case the vehicle’s color ever becomes a factor.

How Will This Affect Insurance?

Informing your insurer about a color change is important for record-keeping, but how will it affect your coverage?

In most cases, changing your car’s color will not impact your insurance premiums or coverage, because color is not a rating factor. Some exceptions would be:

  • Switching to a very expensive or unusual custom color could merit increased values and rates.
  • Changing from standard colors to a red car could bring higher premiums in some cases.
  • Covering collision damage that should have been claimed could lead to issues.

But for basic color changes, you can expect minimal insurance implications. Contact your provider to see if they have guidelines around vehicle color changes. Overall there should be no significant effect.

Will This Void Any Warranties?

Since most new car warranties expire after just a few years, this may not be a concern if you’ve had your financed vehicle for a while already. But repainting during the warranty period could potentially impact your coverage.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act makes it illegal for manufacturers or dealers to void a vehicle’s warranty just because aftermarket changes have been made. However, there are still scenarios where repainting could void portions of your warranty:

  • Damage from improper paint job – Using subpar materials or methods that cause problems.
  • Hiding accident damage – Covering repairs that should’ve been disclosed.
  • Component damage from paintwork.

To avoid conflicts, use a reputable shop and disclose any collision repairs to the warranty provider prior to repainting. Get promises of continued coverage in writing.

As long as your color change doesn’t harm components or disguise necessary repairs, it should not affect the warranty. Connect with the dealer or manufacturer to understand how repainting procedures could impact your specific coverage.

How Much Does It Cost to Repaint a Financed Car?

The cost to repaint your financed vehicle can vary significantly depending on factors like:

  • Quality of paint products used
  • Overall condition of the existing paint and body
  • Color complexity – Solid colors vs. metallics, pearls, chromes, etc.
  • Amount of surface preparation needed
  • Who performs the work – dealership vs. local body shop
  • Geographic location and labor rates

As a ballpark estimate, you can expect to pay $2,000 to $7,000 for a high-quality repaint. Certain exotic paint types, extensive pre-work, and complex designs can drive that even higher.

Be wary of low-ball quotes, as they often result in inferior materials, cutting corners, and poor end results. Focus your search on body shops that specialize in repainting versus general repairs.

Also consider whether you or the insurance company will be footing the bill. Insurers often mandate use of cheaper paints and procedures. You’ll get better results hiring your own quality painter.

Cost to Repaint Common Vehicle Types

Here are typical price ranges for repainting some popular vehicle models and body styles:

Vehicle Type Repaint Cost Range
Compact Sedan $2,000 – $4,500
Mid-size Sedan $2,500 – $5,000
Full-size Sedan $3,000 – $6,000
Compact SUV $3,000 – $5,500
Mid-size SUV $3,500 – $6,500
Full-size SUV $4,000 – $7,500+
Compact/Mid Pickup $2,500 – $5,000
Full-size Pickup $3,500 – $6,000+

As you can see, vehicles with greater surface area typically cost more. Pickups can be affordable thanks to their simple cab and bed paintwork. Prices also rise for metallic paints and multiple color designs versus flat single color jobs.

Financing the Repaint Work

Coming up with $2,000, $5,000 or more for a quality repaint can be challenging. If you don’t have those funds readily available, you may need to get creative financing the paintwork.

Here are some options for funding a color change on your financed vehicle:

Use Personal Savings

The ideal solution is to pay for the repaint work out-of-pocket, so you don’t take on additional debt. Build up your savings for several months beforehand if possible. An affordable shop can help minimize the cash needed.

Apply for a Personal Loan

Unsecured personal loans allow you to borrow a fixed amount, then repay over 6-84 months typically. Interest rates are based on your credit rating. This avoids tapping equity like home or auto collateral loans do.

Use a Credit Card

Many body shops accept credit cards, allowing you to earn rewards on the purchase. Just be sure to pay off the balance within the promotional 0% APR period. Interest charges can really add up if you carry a repaint across multiple statements.

Tap Home Equity

With decent available equity, a cash-out refinance or home equity loan can provide funds at competitive rates. You’ll pay interest but also gain potential tax deductions. Make sure to compare origination fees.

Ask the Dealer

Request an allowance for repaint work from the dealership where you’re purchasing your next vehicle. They may be willing to cover part of the cost or connect you with an affordable shop they work with.

Delay the Repaint

If funds are severely limited at the moment, it’s okay to wait on the color change until a later point when you can better afford it. Driving as-is won’t hurt anything beyond aesthetics.

With a little savings diligence and creative thinking, you can likely find a way to pay for repainting your financed vehicle to enjoy the color you really want.

Using Insurance to Cover the Repaint Cost

What if you can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for repainting your financed car? In some cases, filing an insurance claim may be possible depending on the specifics.

Here are scenarios where your auto policy may pick up the tab:

Claiming Severe Paint Damage

Extensive paint wear, fading, and degradation from road hazards could qualify for claim coverage, assuming it meets your deductible. This depends on your policy limits.

Covering Vandalism or Graffiti

Malicious damage from vandals can allow a claim if it ruins the existing paintwork. Police documentation will bolster the claim.

Hail or Storm Damage

Repainting due to hail dents or chips/peels from flying storm debris can warrant insurance reimbursement in many cases.

Unapproved Repairs

If a body shop completes shoddy unauthorized repainting, you may be able to claim poor workmanship. Proving negligence will be key.

Insurance will only pay for sudden accidental damage or repairs – not just because you want a color change. Carefully consider if policy rates could rise after claiming. Get documentation from the insurer on allowed usage beforehand.

While insurance can offset some or all of the cost in the right situations, don’t make a false claim under false pretenses just to get a free repaint. This type of fraud can result in severe penalties.

Will Resale Value Be Affected?

One natural concern with repainting your car is whether it could hurt resale value down the road. The original factory paint is perceived as more valuable than an aftermarket respray.

However, several factors come into play:

  • Quality – Professional work with quality materials won’t detract value like a cheap repaint might.
  • Color – Choosing a popular neutral color typically brings higher resale than something wild and niche.
  • Disclosure – Transparency about prior paintwork helps buyers appropriately value it.
  • Condition – An older original paint job in poor shape has less advantage over a fresh respray.

In some cases, such as correcting collision damage, repainting can actually increase resale value. The improved visual appeal makes buyers more comfortable with higher pricing.

Focus on quality paint and bodywork, smart color selection, and properly disclosing the repaint history. Follow these best practices and your car’s resale value should remain intact. Check industry valuation guides to anticipate how repaints impact specific makes and models.

Other Options Beyond Repainting

Sometimes there are easier and more affordable alternatives to fully repainting a financed vehicle:

Car Wraps

Vinyl graphic body wraps can give your car a whole new printed color or finish for just $1,500-$5,000 typically. Less permanent than paint and easily removed.

Plasti Dip

Dip-spinning uses colored rubberized coatings you can spray over the factory paint. Costs just a few hundred dollars for temporary color effects.


Darkly tinting the windows and adding black shading accents alters the look without touching the OEM paint. A lot cheaper than repainting too.

New Wheels

Installing new custom wheels in an exciting color goes a long way in freshening up overall appearance.


A professional cut-buff-wax detail job can bring dull faded paint back to life at minimal cost. Enhances the existing color.

Don’t automatically assume complete repainting is your only option. Explore these creative alternatives for temporarily changing the color scheme.

Should You Repaint Before Selling/Trading In?

Is it smart to repaint your financed vehicle just before selling or trading it in? This depends on several factors:

  • How long you plan to keep it after – Repaint makes more sense if owning another 2+ years.
  • Condition of current paint – Freshening up worn paint may help value, but don’t over-improve.
  • Return on investment – Will repaint costs pay off in improved sale price?
  • Buyer preferences – Some want OEM paint, others like freshly redone.

In some cases, such as restoring collision damage or covering extreme rust, repainting may make the vehicle more sellable at a higher value.

But a simple color change or restyling could backfire, with the new owner preferring the stock paint. Unless there are clear flaws corrected, it may be smarter waiting until after the sale for the next owner to repaint to their liking.

Consider mileage and ownership timeline when deciding if pre-sale repainting is worthwhile. The longer you’ll own after, the more it benefits you personally to freshen the color now.